Are you afraid of tofu? Hate it? Never tried it? Lost as to what to do with it?
One of the main responses I get when people learn we’re a primarily vegan family (aside from “but the kids drink milk, right?” and “I could never give up cheese” and “where do you get your protein/iron?” and and and and) is “how do I make tofu so that it doesn’t taste like tasteless crud?” First, one big DON’T to get you started:
- DON’T eat the tofu straight from the package. It will, indeed, be tasteless crud. Tofu is like a sponge. You want to season it, marinate it, let it take on the flavors of your dish.
Mori-Nu Silken Tofu
There are lots of different types of tofu out there. Silken, soft, regular, firm, baked, smoked… Silken tofu is usually found in aseptic boxes, near the rice, soba noodles, water chesnuts, etc. If I use silken tofu, I use the soft style in smoothies, to make vegan mayonnaise, and as a creamy base for soups.
House Foods Regular Tofu
Most of the time, however, I use regular firm tofu.
This will be found in the refrigerated section of your grocery store. A few tips for using regular tofu:
- Freezing it will give it a chewier texture. I alwsays freeze my tofu. You can drain it first, or freeze it in the water, and drain in after it’s thawed. Option two works for me!
- Press as much water out of it as possible. You can buy a press (don’t bother), you can use your hands (a tad messy), or you can go the makeshift route. My patent-pending approach? Place your block of tofu on a plate, a folded clean dish towel above and below. Grab your sturdiest cast iron pan and place it on top. 15-30 minutes later, you’re tofu will be ready to use.
- Your favorite marinade for chicken? Will work perfectly well with tofu.
We eat tofu about once a week. Although I like to experiment, the husband and kids like familiarity. The number one most requested meal in our house is this tofu scramble from Happy Herbivore. Seriously. My kids ask for this all the time, even as special birthday dinners.
My favorite tofu-based meal is an old favorite here at the Sisterhood. That’s right! General Tsao’s Chicken! Minus the chicken, plus a block of tofu. I usually double the sauce (at least) and add broccoli and red pepper. Which probably doesn’t make it terribly authentic, but does indeed make it incredibly delicious! To prepare the tofu for the General Tsao’s recipe, after pressing, I:
- Cube the tofu into bite-sized pieces. I slice the block in half horizontally, so I have two large, flat squares. Then I cut each of those squares into five strips, Turn and cut the five strips in the opposite direction to make cubes.
- Spread the tofu cubes on a nonstick baking sheet, or a sheet lined with parchment paper. Pop them under the broiler for a few minutes, until they start to turn golden and develop a bit of a crust. Take them out, gently flip them so the underside gets equal time. Back under the broiler for a few mintues.
- Add the golden cubes to the General Tsao’s sauce, just minutes before taking it to the table. The cubes will suck up the sauce, but still retain their chewy, crispy texture. Perfection!
So, what about you? Do you have a favorite tofu recipe? Have you never tried it, but are willing to give it a go?
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